Week #9: U-M to Entertain No. 15 North Carolina Sunday
Brooke Bolender

March 14, 2012

Sunday, March 18 -- vs. No. 15 North Carolina (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon
Live Video/Scoreboard | Promotions: Maize Out, Student Overload, Kids Go Blue Club Day

The No. 18-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (7-4) kicks off a four-match homestand on Sunday (March 18), hosting No. 15 North Carolina at noon at the Varsity Tennis Center.

A Look at North Carolina -- The Tar Heels are 10-3 on the season after claiming consecutive 7-0 decisions against East Carolina and University of Puerto Rico last Thursday (March 8) in Puerto Rico. North Carolina boasts four ranked singles players, most notably No. 26 Lauren McHale, and a pair of ranked doubles pairings. Michigan trails in the all-time series against UNC, 1-3, and dropped last season's road dual match, 4-3.

Where We Rank -- The Wolverines fell a couple positions to the No. 18 spot in the latest ITA rankings, released Tuesday (March 13), and boast four individual singles rankings and a top-10 doubles rankings. Freshman Emina Bektas headlines the contingent with the No. 10 ranking. Sophomores Brooke Bolender and Sam Critser check in at No. 64 and No. 106, while junior Mimi Nguyen returned to rankings at the No. 124 position. On the doubles side, Michigan's duo of Bektas and Bolender list at the nation's No. 7 pairing. [ ITA Rankings ]

Dual Match Format -- This weekend's dual matches will be contests for the best-of-seven team points. The dual will begin with three doubles matches consisting of eight-game pro sets. The team that wins two of these three matches will enter the singles competition with one of seven points. After a brief intermission, six singles matches will be played. Each singles match will be the best-of-three tie-break sets and worth one point towards the team competition. The overall dual match will be decided when one team secures four total points. Matches in progress when the dual match is clinched will be played to completion.

Last Time Out -- The Wolverines won four first sets in the singles competition but could not hold on to its early lead against No. 9 Texas, falling 4-2 last Sunday (March 11). Michigan earned singles wins from freshman Sarah Lee and junior Mimi Nguyen at the No. 3 and No. 4 positions, respectively. The match was delayed nearly two hours due to rain and wet conditions; no doubles matches were contested. [ Full Recap ]

Back Home -- The Wolverines return home for the first time since Jan. 29. Michigan is a perfect 3-0 at home this season and has won five consecutive matches -- and 21 straight regular-season matches -- at the Varsity Tennis Center. U-M's last loss at the VTC was a 4-3 decision to No. 19 Northwestern on May 1, 2011.

And Here for a Bit -- Sunday's match against North Carolina kicks off a four-match homestand for the Wolverines, who will host Notre Dame next Wednesday, March 21, before welcoming Wisconsin and Minnesota next weekend (March 24-25). U-M has not played at the VTC since a 4-3 win over Yale on Jan. 29.


Quick Hits

• Freshman Sarah Lee boasts a 10-0 dual-match record, similarly carrying a 10-match win streak.

• Freshman Emina Bektas saw her 11-match win streak snapped last Sunday (March 11) by Texas' No. 30 Aerial Ellis.

• The Wolverines' No. 1 doubles pairing of Bektas and sophomore Brooke Bolender own a seven-match winning streak.

Strength in the Middle -- The Wolverines have found great success at the No. 3 and No. 4 positions, compiling a combined 18-3 record between freshman Sarah Lee, junior Mimi Nguyen and sophomore Sam Critser. Lee has posted a 3-0 record at the No. 3 slot and is 7-0 at No. 4, while Nguyen is 6-2 at No. 3 and 1-1 at No. 4. Critser won her lone appearance at the No. 4 position.

20 and Counting -- Freshmen Emina Bektas and senior Sarah Lee have both eclipsed the 20-win mark in singles action, the first Wolverines to reach 20 in 2012. The newcomers boast matching 21-5 records in their first collegiate season. Last year, U-M had six players win at least 20 matches.

Ronni's Team Tough at Home -- Since head coach Ronni Bernstein took over the Michigan program prior to the 2008 dual-match season, the Wolverines have compiled a 42-2 record at home. U-M lost to then-No. 1 Northwestern during the 2009 season and then-No. 13 Notre Dame during 2010 to account for the only two losses at the Varsity Tennis Center during Bernstein's tenure.

Big Start in the Big Ten -- Adding its win at Michigan State in the Big Ten opener on Feb. 22, the Wolverines extended their Big Ten winning streak to 26 consecutive regular-season dual matches, dating back to the 2008-09 campaign. U-M boasted a perfect 10-0 conference record in each of the last two seasons.

No. 2 to Tango -- The Wolverines dropped the nation's No. 2 singles player and No. 2 doubles pairing in their ITA National Indoors finale against Georgia. Freshman Emina Bektas knocked off the Bulldogs' Chelsey Gullickson, 6-2, 7-5, behind an early break in the first set and late break in the second. With the performance, she avenged an earlier-season loss to Gullickson, the 2010 NCAA singles champion and a three-time All-American. Bektas and sophomore Brooke Bolender also claimed an 8-5 victory over Georgia's pairing of Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist, the nation's No. 2 doubles team.

Leader of the Wolverines -- Head coach Ronni Bernstein is in her fifth year in Ann Arbor, compiling an 92-26 overall record and 39-2 Big Ten mark in her first four years. The Wolverines have strung together the best two-year span in program history during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, going 24-5 in both campaigns while winning two Big Ten championships. For her efforts, Bernstein has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year and ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year in both seasons. Teryn Ashley-Fitch is in her sixth year at Michigan and was promoted to associate head coach last summer after earning ITA Midwest Assistant Coach of the Year honors in 2010.

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Wednesday, March 21 -- vs. Notre Dame (Varsity Tennis Center), 4 p.m.
Saturday, March 24 -- vs. Wisconsin (Varsity Tennis Center), 11 a.m.
Sunday, March 25 -- vs. Minnesota (Varsity Tennis Center), Noon

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423